When I coined the term “personal project manager,” I thought the definition was so clear, I wouldn’t have to define it.  Recently I attended a lunch sponsored by the Business Networking International group and met a business law attorney, a fit man in his late 50s with a successful San Francisco business law practice.  He asked me if I was really a coach—I shuddered.  No disrespect against the noble profession of coaching, but my service is more about accountability and structure rather than cheerleading—you know—left brain stuff.  “A personal project manager is a mix of consultant, facilitator, and coordinator,” I told him with a slight huff.

“Seems to me that the term ‘personal’ can be applied to almost anything,” he said.  “There’s a personal trainer, a personal assistant even a personal chef.”  By this time, I wanted to give him a personal punch in the arm.  Still, he made me think about what I was actually offering as a service.  Why is it that when someone threatens to blow down your house, it’s because your house might be made of straw—if it was made of brick, you’d simply laugh, knowing nothing could tear it down.  Clearly this attorney was calling my bluff, only now can I see that with greater clarity.  He left my side to network with the other members.

When I got back to the office, I did what any level headed person that has online access might do—I looked up the term project manager under Wikipedia.

A project manager is a professional in the field of project management. Project managers can have the responsibility of the planning, execution and closing of any project typically relating to construction industry, architecture, Aerospace and Defense, computer networking, telecommunications or software development.

That’s more like it, I thought to myself.  I plan, execute and close out a project, but instead of managing large scale projects, I manage small scale projects for individuals on a personal level.

The next time I cross paths with that savvy business law attorney, I’ll have to thank him for challenging this little piggie on the definition of a personal project manager.  Because of him, I have greater clarity on my calling which is to support individuals on their personal projects and hopefully live happily ever after.